A couple months ago my younger son and I got away for a long-weekend camping trip. This is something we've done the last couple of years, and we both look forward to it. This year we camped up along the Mogollon Rim, and got to enjoy some of the amazing views that Arizona is famous for.
I know the boy scout creed of "be prepared" from my youth, so we prepared for the weekend - knowing it was monsoon season and we would likely get some afternoon thunderstorms.
- Waterproof tent? Check.
- 10' x 10' easy-up to give us shade from the afternoon sun and protection from the afternoon rain? Check.
- Plastic to cover our firewood? Check.
- Jackets for the rain? Check.
- Ready to have a fun and relaxing weekend? Check.
So what happened?
We set up camp, pitched the tent, popped open the easy-up, and sat down to relax, when the sky immediately opened up with a torrential downpour, followed by high winds and a significant drop in temperature. The rain was exciting for the first 10 minutes, and tolerable for a half hour. But after 2 hours of heavy rain with sideways-blowing wind, I learned that we weren't as prepared as we needed to have been.
- Jackets? In the tent, not doing us any good.
- Easy-up? Not much protection from a sideways-blowing downpour.
- Firewood? The plastic ripped and blew open, and our firewood was soaked. (along with every other piece of wood in the forest.)
- At least the tent stayed dry!
It took us an hour that evening to find-cut-whittle enough kindling and tinder to start a fire, and another hour to cook our dinner over the not-very-hot fire using damp wood. We went to bed that night not feeling very satisfied.
The next day we spent a couple hours splitting wood to get dry pieces from the center of the logs, while also laying pine needles and smaller pieces of wood around the sunny areas of the campsite to dry out. It took a chunk of time out of our day, but we eventually got ourselves back on track, to the point where we could have fire on demand and cook a quick meal when we wanted to for the rest of the weekend.
Of course that experience of being behind the curve, of not being able to start a fire when we were hungry for dinner, got me thinking about how a little planning and preparation goes a long way towards staying ahead of the curve with newsletters.
Waiting until the end of the month to "do your newsletter" is inviting unforeseen problems to throw you off track.
- What happens if you get sick the last week of the month?
- What happens when a high-maintenance client calls, and you spend the week in your car showing homes?
- What happens when your kids have a project-crises-illness-event, and you're pulled away from your computer?
These are the 2-hour rainstorms that happen from time to time - you don't know exactly when they're coming, and if you aren't fully prepared they will drag you way behind the curve.
End of Month -
I recommend you have next month's topic picked out before this month ends. Knowing what you're going to write about lets your subconscious start working on an outline.
First week of the month -
Write up an outline or some bulletpoints about what you want to say. Are you going to need any graphs, charts, or images?
Second week of the month -
This is when you should write your newsletter. You have an outline and a gameplan; now you simply have to tie it all together and send it out. Make the 15th your target date for delivery.
Third week of the month -
This is your backup, just in case a rainstorm hit during the second week, you still have a cushion to write your newsletter without any time-induced stress.
Last week of the month -
Find a topic for next month's newsletter. Rinse and repeat the whole cycle.
Thanks for reading.
Life is easier when you're ahead of the curve. I hope you found something useful here that you can use to make your own business run a little better.
Or, if you want somebody else to take this task off your desk, I would be happy and honored to help out. Give me a shout anytime.
- Chris Butterworth